Monthly Archive for June, 2011

Colette Blount Running for City Council

Charlottesville School Board member and Albemarle County teacher Collette Blount is running for the Democratic nomination for City Council, Brian Wheeler writes for Charlottesville Tomorrow. In her campaign announcement, she expressed particular interest in matters of race, and said that the major planks in her campaign platform are equal access to quality education for all citizens, environmental stewardship, and citizen engagement.

I think, at last, this is going to be the final Democrat to declare for this November’s Council election. That’s seven candidates for three nominations, plus four independent candidates. There are no Republicans in the race.

Doing the Math on the Western Bypass

Aaron Richardson has a long article about the revival of the Western Bypass in the Progress, but the bit that interests me is this alarming pair of facts:

“The public money for [Hillsdale Drive] is less than $10 million and it will take 12,000 vehicles a day off 29,” Rooker said. “The cost of the bypass is around $250 million, and will take 15,000 vehicles off 29.”

James Rich, who represents Charlottesville on the Commonwealth Transportation Board, agrees.

“After $300 million of expenditures, Route 29 will still be at an F level of service,” he said. “You’re spending a ton of money, degrading the quality of life in an important area of the community, and what help is it?”

To provide a more direct comparison of the benefit per dollar of the the two modifications to 29N contrasted by Dennis Rooker, consider the difference in the cost expressed in cars per year of each approach. Expressed in terms of cars per year, Hillsdale Drive will cost $2.28 per car taken off 29. (10,000,000 / (12,000 x 365)) In the same terms, the Western Bypass will cost $45.66 per car taken off 29. (250,000,000 / (15,000 x 365)) Put even more simply, the Western Bypass will cost 2,000% as much per vehicle taken off 29N. Again, for an “F” level of service.

How much would it cost to run light rail clear down 29N to downtown? Or commuter blimp service? Jet packs for everybody? Any of those would be cheaper, and probably just as effective, as this goofy bypass of our existing bypass.

City to be Sued Over Panhandling Restrictions

Attorney Jeffrey Fogel is filing a lawsuit against the city on behalf of five local panhandlers, Tasha Kates writes in the Daily Progress. The city strengthened its law prohibiting panhandling last summer, prohibiting solicitation of people doing business with vendors or within 50 feet of the crossings. Notably, Mayor Dave Norris—a strong advocate for the homeless—is a defender of the law, believing it to be “modest.”

Fogel argues that the prohibition is a violation of their First Amendment rights, because the law is not content-neutral, but instead prevents people from saying specific things. Whatever you might think about panhandling, this seems like a legal matter worthy of the consideration of the courts.

Cannon Running for City Council

Democrat Brevy Cannon has announced his candidacy for City Council, Graham Moomaw writes in the Progress. The 36-year-old UVA employee and volunteer firefighter is the sixth Democrat to enter the race for three nominations. He moved here in 1997 to attend UVA. In his announcement speech, Cannon promoted the need for job creation—specifically biotech—improving the Rivanna Trail, and made an unusual proposal to replace the Belmont Bridge as planned, but leave one longitudinal half of the existing structure standing as a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

Democrats will nominate their candidates on August 20.

Bundoran Foreclosed On

Wells Fargo has foreclosed on the Bundoran Farm development, Bryan McKenzie writes for the Progress. Over three square miles of the development—presumably not including the parcels already sold—will be sold on the steps of the courthouse next week. The developer says that their partners, who provided the money for the development, had “their other investments…hit hard and they had liquidity issues and couldn’t meet the lender’s requirements”—or, in English, they didn’t have the money to pay their mortgage. Wells Fargo says that they’re hopeful that the development will continue in its current rural style, with large lots and ongoing agricultural interests, but what with selling it, what they hope for probably doesn’t much matter.